Building a jungle kit By Allan Leibowitz
Do you hate lugging a full-size kit around to band practice or small venue gigs? The answer may be a jungle kit – and you probably have everything you need. This DIY project used a bunch of second-hand, mismatched drums, but you can just as easily use your existing kit. What I used: For this project, I used some Gretsch Blackhawk toms: a 16”floor tom, a 14” floor tom and a 10” rack tom. The first step for me was creating a “set” from
mismatched shells and, for that, I turned to Bum Wrap Drum Company. I have used Bum Wraps before, but, this time, had a whole new experience with their e-commerce platform. It’s really easy to use. You select a wrap (or create one, as I did), and select the
sizes of each drum. There is a substantial collection of designs, ranging from natural wood finishes to abalones and psychedelic designs. In my case, I recreated the finish of my first drum kit in Photoshop, working from an original image and cloning the design. I then emailed that to Bum Wraps and they worked their magic to create the wraps. In the online store, you are given the option of slightly smaller wraps for drums with hoops on both ends, or deeper wraps for single-headed drums. You simply go through, ordering the sizes you need and then go to your cart and settle up as with all online purchases. Shipping is cheap and lightening fast, with delivery to Australia in under two weeks. The wrap is very easy to fit – and it gets easier with practice. You start by removing the hardware. You can take off the old wrap or go over it (which I chose to do as it’s quicker and easier). There are detailed instructions on the website, and all I can add is that you really do need a decent pair of clamps to hold the wrap in place while attaching the adhesive-strip
end to the rest of the wrap. The wrap is held even more snugly in place by the hardware when you reinstall it. The secret here is to use something sharp to pierce the wrap from the inside and then widen the hole using a Philips head screwdriver from the outside. (You can find my review of the installation process here). The hardware: The key to a jungle kit is converting a floor tom to a kick drum. You can use any size tom (Sonor makes a kit with a 14” kick), but 16” is the most common. The easiest way to perform the transformation is using a Pearl Jungle Conversion Kit (JG16).
These are available at most drum stores or on eBay and cost around $70. For that, you get two legs and a riser. You’ll also need something to mount it on, like a Pearl Omnimount which retails for around $40. I found the Pearl mount difficult to attach to some 16” tom rims,
especially when the drum is being moved around a lot, and opted instead for a more permanent solution, attaching a tom block to the shell. That’s more stable and half the price of a removable mount.
I also found the Pearl legs a bit too small for the Gibraltar floor tom mounts, so I changed the mounts. Luckily, most tom blocks have the same dimensions and I was able to replace the mounts without drilling new holes. Obviously, with a jungle kit, the aim is to reduce the number of pieces you lug around, so I attached my snare (in this case a 10” Pearl Firecracker – rewrapped with the same
design) to a hi-hat stand and the hanging tom to a ride cymbal stand.
There are plenty of attachments that one can use, but I chose a couple from my hardware case with lots of flexibility to allow for accurate positioning and angling of the drums. Heads: One can, of course, use the existing heads on all the drums, but to get a beefy bass sound, it does make sense to replace the batter head on the 16” tom. After some experimentation with a cocktail kit, I settled on an Aquarian SuperKick II which combines a decent low-end thump with sufficient muffling to avoid nasty overtones. While I had the drum open, I also placed a small towel inside for additional overtone control. For the other toms, I used dual-
ply clears on the batter sides and the stock heads on reso sides. The snare sports an Aquarian Modern Vintage coated head which really sings on the Firecracker and sounds huge. The results: The jungle kit is certainly compact and can be carried in two trips (the floor tom, hanging tom, snare and kick pedal fit into a large bag; while the floor tom and two stands are carried in the second trip, along with a cymbal bag). Tuning is obviously important,
and I’ve got the hanging tom and floor tom tuned lower than usual. With two 10” drums – the snare and the tom - it’s also important to tune out any sympathetic resonance. The 16” tom is tuned just past finger tight to get some real low-end thump out of the bass. Obviously, the ultimate sound is determined by the quality of the shells and heads – and the tuning. But there’s no doubt this kit sounds way bigger than it appears, and with its new BumWraps finish, it certainly looks the part.
Allan Leibowitz is the editor of digitalDrummer and his reviews have appeared in drum magazines globally.